The biggest flaw of Bunpro (for beginner learners)


First of all I want to say I really enjoy what bunpro does. But there is a huge flaw that made learning extremely hard for me using this website. The worst part is, I don’t know how it can be fixed.

I started learning Japanese using the Genki I textbook. I found bunpro shortly after and was happy to see they had a path for Genki.

The problem is, the website is built using the bunpro’s order for learning. When you go through a genki path, it gives you the grammar points in the order of genki, but the example sentences expect you to know the grammar in the bunpro order. For learning to be truly effective you need to use n+1 or whatever they call it where you only introduce 1 new element at a time the rest of the sentence is reviewing everything else you know, and from what I see the bunpro order does that amazingly. So it feels like you kind of undercut the whole system by doing it out of the intended order and choosing a textbook path.

For example Genki Chapter 3 has 余り~ない and ごろ which is actually considered n4 vocab even though it introduces it early in genki.

so you get sentences like this on your 2nd/3rd review even though you’re learning present polite conjugation of verbs on chapter 3 of Genki.



Those are the most egregious examples I can find, but it happens with a ton of the grammar points just because they’re taught in a different order.

I know you just need to fill in the blank and can use the English word to know what it’s asking for, but as you get further in and get more grammar points, it gets confusing. Even if you get the answer right, it feels like you’re not learning if you can’t read the sentence to give context to the answer. I was doing reviews and I didn’t know if the example sentences were using grammar points I’d forgotten or ones I haven’t learned yet. I just felt like it got to the point where I couldn’t make heads or tails of the sentence half the time I was doing reviews and I just felt defeated every time I came to this website. ESPECIALLY because the examples sentences get progressively harder as you go through the reviews. Which normally would be a good thing, but if it’s showing even more grammar points you don’t know, it’s bad.

I actually finished the Genki 1 textbook, and I’m restarting bunpro and am just going to go in the bunpro recommended order and do all of bunpro n5 first since genki 1 covers most of n5 and use bunpro’s helpful links for what the book misses. I’ll work through the genki 2 textbook and only after I’m done with the book I’ll proceed to doing the n4 in the bunpro order, letting it fill in the gaps. And then after that I believe bunpro will be a lot more effective, because at that point my understanding is there’s no real textbook path and being able to use bunpro to guide me through each grammar points with its examples will make learning a whole lot easier.

I just wanted to bring this up, because for me it’s really disheartening and I think it’s the primary reason new learners are confused and don’t know ‘how to use bunpro’ and end up giving up.

The only possible solution I can think of is going through every example sentence and hide them if it uses a grammar point not introduced in your textbook path, but the amount of work would be unreasonable. I think at the very least there should be a disclaimer when choosing a textbook path though, because I think it honestly can hurt you more than help you. I felt it did me at least.

I just wish I knew ahead of time to finish the textbook first, and then start bunpro using the bunpro order. Or at the very least, still use bunpro order and just learn side by side with genki.

Thanks if you made it this far

Sorry I am not good at keeping things short. haha


That’s probably the easiest fix.
I think they ended up here because they set up the site one way, and then as a “feature” added the textbook paths. :slight_smile: :man_shrugging:


Always going to exist (sadly?) as there’s nothing you can do to counteract it. You’d have to essentially filter and create a lot more sentences for each source and that would result in a mess for obvious reasons. I did the Tae Kim path initially during N5 but then I ran into the same problem and I realized there is no reason for me to use the path. Go along the Bunpro route in order and just use your textbook to supplement, it’s not going to be THAT much of a difference imo you just slightly learn things in a different sequence but the general formation still applies.

Also when you first start it is (imo!) completely fine to not understand the base sentence as long as you generally understand the specific grammar point and how it’s being used. For example if you’re learning て-form → Knowing why/how it’s used and it’s conjugation is enough at that stage, you don’t necessarily need to know the entire rest of the sentence to grasp the underlying point. That’s probably a hot-take but I think in most situations it holds itself to be true hahaha. I had nuance on the entire time during N5 because I figured the grammar was much more important at this time than trying to understand writing completely. Everyone has their own way of doing things, but I try to study with the least amount of resistance possible and I’ve not had a single problem with Bunpro’s ordering. I’m not sure if it matters too much once you reach N3 and beyond, but you can cross that bridge eventually.


It’s unavoidable without BunPro making different example sentences for every path, sadly.

I have to say that I also followed the Genki path and didn’t bump into this issue much. My biggest gripe was actually some of the resource sites that are linked. They teach basic grammar points using vocab and kanji far above that level. I think it’s imabi? A couple of them are guilty of this. WaniKani’s example sentences are useless to the level they are aimed at, yet they maintain a cult-like following.

The way that BunPro’s example sentences grow in complexity and only use elements that you will have encountered already, seems to be an exception.


This right here is my biggest criticism of WaniKani. Their example sentences are ridiculously complicated for no reason (and often nonsensical) and it makes it really hard to tell how the word is being used.


Just to be clear, this isn’t an issue specific to the learning paths either. For example, I use the default order and came across a sentence for point 145 - N4 Lesson 6 Verb [passive] that included point 174 - N4 Lesson 8 ても as part of the answer. I was able to realize this quickly thanks to the community discussion for that point.

As a beginner I also find this a little frustrating and disheartening, but it’s also a reminder that I need to accept a certain degree of ambiguity and try my best in every situation. I think that as new learners it’s fine if we get the gist of things and understand the main issue each practice sentence is going for rather than completely understanding the sentence as born2peepee said above. For what it’s worth, Bunpro at least limits vocab to something reasonable at the lower levels. While I can understand some of the ire with arbitrary N level stuff, I do think sticking to the closest thing we have to a standard is probably a safer choice for everyone than trying to cater to the popular textbooks.

Yes. I love Imabi, but the vocabulary on that site is insane to the point I feel like reading some of the examples there are as difficult as the native texts I’ve been looking at. They do mix in easier sentences, but I feel like sticking to only those is like giving up on the incredible depth of each article there. If I actually took the time to learn all of the vocab for the articles and used it as a primary source it would take around… forever to progress in my studies.

I’m pretty biased in favor of Bunpro, but really… it’s been much easier learning and retaining what I’ve studied here than when I had just used textbooks + google alone.


That’s the point. I wish there was a feature to like your post multiple times :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:
Sometimes, I don’t understand some sophisticated words in English, but it doesn’t prevent me to enjoy reading/listening and follow the story. IMO, it should be the same for Japanese.
I remember times when I didn’t understand anything about English grammar, and I could barely distinguish a noun from a verb in a sentence. But I was driven by a keen interest in the topic (it was documentation for PHP :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:), so I read it word by word, striving for ball-park sentence meaning.
Now I’m reading Boku no Hero Academia in Japanese, and it’s quite hard for N4, but in case of struggling I have an edition in my native language to peek. Yeah, you will learn probably much more if you parse every sentence and put all unknown words and grammar in your Anki deck, but there’s no joy in it (at least for me). I’m going slowly, but by tolerating ambiguity I enjoy the story itself. I believe if one consumes more, they will understand more.


I started with going through the default path of bunpro, but I don’t think using grammar points you don’t know would be that difficult to handle. When I saw example sentences there were plenty of words I didn’t know. From other people’s posts on the site this seems to be a common thing between people.
For example with あまり or ごろ the information from your on screen dictionary should be enough to understand what they mean even if you don’t necessarily understand how to use them. I also think it’s fine as long as with the example sentence you understand how the grammar point is being used even if you don’t understand a different point with it.


Thanks all for the replies!

I agree with WaniKani that the example sentences are super useless, but I also really enjoy Wanikani because the way they present it in radicals > Kanji > Vocab so I pretend those sentences don’t exist. There are other flaws with WK that drive me crazy but overall it’s helped me learn so I can’t be too critical.

I also understand that with learning there are always going to be things you don’t know, so any progress is progress. My main point was Bunpro was obviously was set it to build on itself (with a few exceptions) because that is most effective for learning and the paths were added later as a feature. So when it has a really effective way to learn built in but gives you the option to do a less effective method without warning you it just feels bad. I would just use anki if I didn’t want to take advantage of the example sentences bunpro built specifically to help learners.

Plus, I don’t remember specifics as I haven’t used bunpro in a while but I’m almost certain sometimes the answers need to be conjugated in a way I didn’t know yet depending on the context of the sentence. But I also went through slower than a lot of people and I did dip into Genki II before I stopped using the site, so maybe I was just getting the harder examples by the end of it.

I’m not trying to be too negative. I did buy bunpro lifetime because I do see the advantages of it and want to support it. I just feel like it should emphasize the bunpro order to be most effective. I’m starting it back up today going that order because I know (for me) it’ll be less frustrating and when I get to N3 that’s when bunpro will really start to shine!


Genki II only covers about 30-50 grammar points out of the 178 N4 points on BunPro so you have to do the BunPro order eventually anyway.

My copy of Tobira and the Dictionary of Intermediate Grammar arrived this week and the first thing I noticed when starting the Tobira path was that I’d already done half of the grammar points in the first few chapters. Everyone said that there was a big jump between Genki and Tobira so I just plodded on with BunPro until N4 was done. I probably should have started Tobira a lot sooner.


The problem with Anki for grammar is that you’re basically left with a simple card for each grammar point that really only tests you’re knowledge of the core point, there’d be no nuance or conjugation, etc. involved in it. If you tried to account for this you’d have an ugly deck tbh hahaha I can’t imagine that being fun to sift though.

I think the example you were trying to remember would be related to I-adjectives since those just got recently added but the conjugations were always required for points. I think if people didn’t go in Bunpro order I would recommend they learn the conjugation points for each JLPT level (volitional, passive, etc.) all at the same time during each level. This probably avoids most of the hiccups and to be honest doesn’t require a ton of learning it’s just brute memorization at a certain point. There’s no perfect way to learn but hopefully you’re able to find a path that works for ya and also pick up some tips along the way to make it as smooth as possible!


I 100% agree with this- in fact, I remember bringing it up in one of the feedback topics.

I actually started with the tae kim guide, and now I’ve made it to the end of that I’m making my way through genki- all the time using Bunpro to test and reinforce the grammar.

It’s not perfect, but this is how I survived the “relies on future knowledge” problem.

If I got a wrong answer, I’d take a look at what was expected. If I was simply wrong, then I’d accept it. But if it was because Bunpro wanted something out of me I didn’t know (an unrelated ている conjugation was a really common candidate for this), I would just copy and paste the right answer back in using the ‘show answer’ / ‘opps’ button combo.

The aim at this point is to keep focused on the points you learn; you’re not cheating, you’re just keeping Bunpro focused :smiley:

As you progress using whatever resource you’re using, cases where the review sentences need a point you don’t know will become a lot less frequent.

I did initially try to fill the review-sentence gap myself using a conjugation cheat sheet (I still use this one). It was useful for getting a bit of an understanding, but inevitably it meant I was following two learning paths at once, which wasn’t very helpful.


For what it’s worth, I have been using Bunpro on the Genki path since almost the beginning of Genki 1. I got through and I’m quite happy the path exists. I agree that there are many example sentences that were quite confusing to me, but never to the point of it being disheartening; and it got progressively better and fewer during the Genki 1 path.

And for the parts where I didn’t understand example sentences completely, I could usually still understand the part of the sentence that uses the new grammar, and that’s the most important thing in the example sentences to me.


I complete agree with this being an issue. My unhelpful advice of the day is to stop being a beginner and it will get easier :blush:

More seriously though, being a beginner is just hard. A perfect learning resource just doesn’t exist (at least not yet). If you continue and just power through the frustration or find another resource that works better you will reach a point where everything is just much easier.


This is a great point thank you, I think I need to start doing it this way because finding so many words I don’t know has really been interrupting my progress.

I’ve learned to accept not really understanding a lot of the sentences and just filling in the answer according to the hint. All I really need is the exposure to the grammar points for future reference.

Adding every new word to my SRS would be great, but so would a lot of other things, and my time is limited.

I tried the Tae Kim order for a few months but I plateaued the whole time. As soon as I reverted, I started making progress again. The weird thing is, I had years of (on-again, off-again) experience with learning Japanese even by then. So I was in this weird limbo where half of each sentence was overwhelming and the other half had been baked into my muscle memory since puberty.

Frankly, if I were King Bunpro, I’d remove those paths altogether. I think they’re misleading. But I can see why that’d be a bad move for a service that’s putting so much energy into its own growth.

As someone who’s studied Japanese for a long time, if I may offer some advice/looking-back musings: it’s actually kind of good to go in a different order in Bunpro than in Genki and/or Tae Kim, even if you’re using them concurrently. You’ll build more flexibility by starting multiple paths and allowing them to feed one another.

I say this all the time here and on the WaniKani forums, but I also strongly recommend you start reading and listening to native content without English. Even if you’re a beginner. You’ll be frustrated out of your mind at first—and you’ll hate looking up so many words in one sentence. That happens to every learner at first. It happened to me even after I completed 300-level Japanese in college. But it really does get easier. I recently read two Japanese math books with a combined 860 pages. It was surprisingly fun after a while!

I’ve found that what works for me is to add a word if I’ve had to look it up at least twice. That filters out a lot of words that I don’t need yet and seems to keep my reading comprehension moving in the right direction.


I hit the same problem going through Tae Kim. I like Tae Kim’s resources but I think it fits Bunpro terribly and I’d almost advise removing the corresponding path from the site.

The main issue is that Tae Kim works more like a reference guide than a schoolbook. When it introduces conditionals for instance, it goes over all forms (common and uncommon, slang and formal) then moves on and that’s that. For Bunpro users it’s kind of terrible because you end up adding 5 or 6 very similar grammar points at the same time, some N5-tier and some much more advanced, and it’s just extremely confusing and frustrating.

Similarly it introduces ようになる, ことになる, ようにする and ことにする in the same chapter and I still confuse all of them to this day because I added them at the same time and still haven’t managed to undo the confusion it caused.

Of course nobody is at fault here. Tae Kim doesn’t expect you to memorize every single point of his lessons at once, you’re supposed to iterate over those as needed. And Bunpro just lets you unlock new points at your leisure.

My current and vastly superior solution is simply to do Bunpro order and consult the corresponding entry in the Tae Kim guide (and others as necessary) when the time comes. It’s vastly more enjoyable that way.

That being said I feel like it’s mostly a problem early on (when you’re doing N5 grammar). Once you know the basics the order feels less important. I routinely add N3/N2 points even though I’m not done with N4 simply because I encounter them in the wild and decide that I want to learn them, and it’s not too big of a deal.


Just wanted to chime back in and say I agree with quite literally everything you wrote here in response to my old post. I wrote something very similar to someone recently about paths and how it’s only natural that during the fundamental stage you will run into some stuff like what happens with Tae Kim. There are things we can (and have done) to lessen the blow, but some of this stuff will just always happen when you’re trying to accommodate for so many source materials at the same time.

Thanks for sharing your advice for other people to read! :surfing_man:


I am using Bunpro as a grammar tool. I was first using it with Genki, but now I am taking a university course and they have their own materials. As we cover a topic, I add it to my review. I found this to work very well. There is enough information in the questions to understand the grammar point, even if I don’t yet know all of the vocabulary. In fact, I think applying grammar to unknown vocabulary makes sure you really know how to apply the rule in question. I use a different program entirely for vocabulary (not ANKI - which was too complicated for me). I switched on the vocabulary for Bunpro briefly but it quickly became overwhelming.